How long does it take to make an app and what development stages are there

If a startup owner wants to bring a relevant product to the market, attract investments, and fit the budget, then one needs to know how long it takes to make an app and how much it costs. In this article, learn about the stages in creating mobile app development and how long each of them takes.

Reading time: 8 minutes

Table of contents

How to choose a contractor 

You need about 5-6 people to make a mobile app: a project manager (PM), a UI/UX designer, 2-3 developers, and a QA engineer. Each one is required for app development services. There are a few ways to build a team: hire in-house experts, contract freelancers, or go to a development agency. We advise you to choose an agency because its custom app development services will cost less than hiring an in-house team, and you don’t need to coordinate their work as in the case of freelancers. Follow the link below to get more information on how to find software developers.

See also  How to recruit software developers in 2024?

What we need from the client

So, you have a team. Now, let’s learn how to start developing an app. A startup owner has to know what users need and how to help them. Besides, we need to know:

    • Information about the project. Business model, deadlines (if you need to show the app to investors in a month, for example), main competitors.
    • Portrait of your target audience. We need maximum information describing people that will use the app: sex, age, social characteristics, and other details.

Based on this, we could estimate how long it will take to make an app.

Development stages

Here’s how we make an app in Purrweb:

    • Project estimation and functionality prioritization
    • UI/UX design
    • Developing app
    • QA testing
    • Release and support

It seems that the stages have to follow each other. But it’s not true. We follow the SCRUM methodology in our work. It means that we can add or leave functions at any stage. It is useful if the budget changes, you need to speed up the app’s time to market, or just want to add some new features. This way, the project doesn’t exceed deadlines and budget.

See also  Project management and SCRUM: why and how?

We get all the information from the client and start to make an app.

how long does it take to make an app

Project estimation and functionality prioritization

In this stage, we select the main app’s features. To do this, the PM works with the client and gets all details about the project. It’s great when a client already has a market analysis and understands what they need. If not, we can carry out the market research. Based on it, we decide what features need to be in the app and collect them in a Google Sheets list. Then, a team lead, a business analyst, and a UX designer estimate the scope of work to make an app.

Initially, the client and the PM lay out all potential app features that the client wants to see. As a result, it is a full-fledged mobile app estimation that needs > $120k and > 9 months for development. The client and the PM prioritize features to start faster and spend 3 times less time and money. Thus, we divide features into key and additional ones. The key features solve users’ problems. For example, the key feature in a food delivery app is order payment. Additional features make the app more convenient but increase the development budget and time. For example, you could add a restaurant review feature in a food delivery app. In the end, the client decides what features have to stay.

So, we remove the excess and keep the most necessary features. This optimizes the development process. Thus, it reduces the development time and saves the client’s budget. Quite important to know is that if you lay out some large and complex functionality for your app, it needs more time to make an app.

  An average of 2 weeks.

how long does it take to make an app

UI/UX design

Then, it’s time for the UI/UX design of the app. The goal of UI/UX design is to create mockups of the app. Developers will take these mockups to develop the app. At Purrweb, UI/UX design consists of 6 stages.

1. Collecting negative references. We ask the client to show us examples of app designs that they don’t like. It helps us cut off unsuitable variants. At the same time, we don’t box ourselves in the designs that our client likes.

2. Creating a mind map. It is a map of a user’s behavior. Designers convert the features from the Google Sheets list into a step-by-step scheme. Thus, we set up the navigation in the app.

how long does it take to make an app

3. Developing wireframes. A wireframe is a base for a concept and an end mockup. In wireframes, we roughly show the content and the basic functionalities such as buttons, icons, text fields, and pictures. We show where they will be located and how they will interact together.

how long does it take to make an app

4. Creating a concept. It consists of a few finished screens showing one user path. It has colors, types, icons, and elements made in one style. Besides, the concept interactively shows how this part of the app is working. So the client can present it to investors.

how long does it take to make an app

5. Ready-made mockups are all finished screens made in one style. It has all the other user paths.

6. A UI kit is a set of interface elements. It helps us create the app in the same style. Imagine that a finished mockup is a building, and the UI kit is all the bricks. Developers use these bricks to make an app so they don’t need to delve into design for laying the frontend. This means the UI kit makes our work easier and saves development time.

how long does it take to make an app

All UI/UX design stages are recorded in Figma. It is a graphic editor where you can see all versions of mockups, comments, stages of work, and results. We can add the client to our Figma if they want. So, the client can comment on the design and suggest edits. But one should be ready that the edits will increase the process of app development.

We follow the App Store’s and Play Store’s guidelines for app design. For example, button sizes, indents, and clickable areas. Guides help to make sure that the design is right. These guidelines are just recommendations, so they don’t limit us. And we can be creative with design. Follow the link below to get more information about the design process.

See also  Chaos brings life: how we built an effective design process

When we have a doubt about how the design will look in the working app, then we consult with our developers. Also, we go to Mobbin which is a collection of 50,000+ design screens from real apps. So, we see how other designers create some elements like scrolling. Now, it is time to make a prototype. And then, when it is ready, the developing stage starts.

An average of 2-4 weeks.

App development

At this stage, we add 2-3 developers to the team. We use React Native in our work. This means that the client gets two apps for iOS and Android at once as the deliverable. 

We divide the developing process into 2-week-sprints. Each sprint we implement one or few features. At the end of each sprint, we have a demo for the client, so the client is always aware of the development results.

We use Jira and Hubstaff to organize our work. It helps us track what task each team member is doing, plan tasks for the sprint, and create reports for the client. We pin cards with the task status on the Kanban board so that none of the tasks get lost or forgotten. But the most important thing is that these services help us calculate the time we spend on each sprint and understand whether we stay on the deadlines. The client gets access to services at their request.

At an average of 2-6 months. The deadlines depend on the number of features and workload of the team.

how long does it take to make an app

QA testing

QA testing goes together with the development process. QA engineers are checking implemented features while developers make new ones. The goal is to find bugs there. Testers reproduce different use cases and try to break the app. If there is any bug, they describe it and report it to developers to fix. Every two sprints, we do the regression testing. Testers run all the features and check how they work together. The stage’s goal is the working app with the features to work as expected. As a result, we have a full-fledged mobile app.

We ask the client to register a developer’s account in Apple for immediately testing the app on their side. For testing the Android app, we upload it on the Google Play Console. The client downloads and tests the app.

how long does it take to make an app

Release and support

QA testing isn’t the last stage in the process of making an app. To upload an app to the stores, we need to follow the requirements of the App Store and the Google Play Store. We mention them at the design stage. At the development stage, we have already done everything as it should be, so there will be no problems releasing the app.

This isn’t the end. The first users give feedback on the app. They share their opinion and tell what is not enough, and what can work better. Thus, it helps the client to improve the app. Usually, the client asks us to support and improve the apps if they don’t have their own team. Also, we can add some new features if the client wants.

At average from week to infinity.

Stages of app development

Examples of apps

Follow the link below if you want to get examples of how we do custom app development services. In this case, you learn how we made all the planned features in 5 months. Also, we’ll tell you what technologies and instruments we used in the developing process and how we fought to upload the app to the App Store.

See also  An app for COVID-19 second wave: how we built a competitor to Headspace in 5 months

If you have the idea to create a food delivery app, then read our guide on food delivery app development. We describe the key functionality for clients, users, and restaurants. The article includes information about how much it costs and how long it takes to make an app.

See also  How to build an on-demand delivery app: Purrweb’s guide

Summing up: the development period and what affects it 

There are 5 stages to make an app in Purrweb. According to our experience, it takes to get a product to market in 3-9 months. Here is what affects the process of making an app:

    • The number of features and their complexity. If you know what users need, it’s easy to determine and prioritize the necessary functionality. The better the client conducts the market and the target audience research, the fewer changes and improvements will be in the process.
    • Team: organization of work, communication within it, workload in general.

We have prepared some cases with the process and the costs of the mobile app development. Do you have any ideas about what your startup needs? Write to us to discuss it. We decide what functionality is needed and create the design together. Then, count the costs of the development and how long it takes to make an app. Besides, you can try our calculator to find the approximate cost.

How useful was this post?

Rate this article!

10 ratings, аverage 4.6 out of 5.

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!